Back to the Fifties
by Steven Chupnick
Just imagine if Marty McFly had not ended up in Hill Valley, California, but say, St. Paul, Minnesota! Well that's exactly where our Steven Chupnick ended up on his latest adventure as he went Over the Edge and back to the 50’s.
Welcome to a gathering of classic iron, and the 39th annual Back to the 50’s Weekend...
STEVEN CHUPNICK: Well, it’s become a little more than a gathering - nearly 12,000 cars and trucks fill the Minnesota State Fairgrounds...and all these cars from the 50’s and 60’s - it makes me want to get down for a boogie woogie daddy-o.
Like many of the great car clubs, the Minnesota Street Rod Association, or MSRA, began in the late 1960’s as a bunch of guys getting together and talking about what else…their cars. No one thought it would ever be this big...
GENE SONNEM: It just kind of fed on itself. A chance to see a lot more different cars than we’d ever seen before and meet other guys from other parts of the Twin Cities, the whole metro area. That happened; then, out of state guys started showing up.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: What started out as 12 guys, the MSRA has grown to more than 13,000 members world wide... And as for the Back to the 50's - over 125,000 spectators and 11,800 cars…easily the largest three day car show of its kind in the world...and it is just that – a show - no competition, just the love of wheels, fins, and people...
TOM VOLLBRECHT SR.: We all enjoy our cars, we’re nuts, I guess. People say, ‘what are you crazy?’ We are, we’re car crazy. I shouldn’t say that, but we are.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: So what kind of rides are here? Everything, and I mean everything. The only rule: the autos must have been built by 1964...and sorry, no Mustangs allowed...other than that, anything goes! How cool to see so many wonderfully maintained modern classics, cars you rarely see on the street anymore, like these Ford Galaxies…or maybe its cars that no one has ever seen before.
LARRY SCHOONOVER: We wouldn’t miss it, it’s just in your blood. If it isn’t the car, it’s the people, it’s the park, it’s the food. It’s just so much fun, you can’t explain it.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: Connie Murphy drove her 1956 Chevy Nomad all the way from California – for the fifth year in a row ...for her, just getting to Minnesota is an experience.
CONNIE MURPHY: Wonderful, you get on the road and it’s so much fun. It’s like a car show from there to here. Every year, the car gets older, more people wave and it’s like a little car show at every gas stop.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: We happened to stumble on one of the few Europeans present– John Myers’ 1961 Triumph TR4...
JOHN MYERS: It kind of gives people something different to look at. And a lot of people remember this car from back in the 60’s and 70’s and you don’t really see them that much anymore.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: Oh, and that love I was talking about before...it goes way beyond just showing off your car...and the newlywed’s drive-away ride - what else, a street rod! The groom’s own 1926 Ford sedan. Thanks to Brent Alpert and the Ignitors youth rodders, even the pint-sized fans get pumped up about the golden age of American cars...
BRENT ALPERT: My big thing is, I’ve been trying to get the youth in this hobby and keep the hobby going.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: But it’s still the seasoned vets who Brent and the younger members look up to...
BRENT ALPERT: Meeting these older members has been just great. Hearing the old stories of the past that I didn’t have a chance to live have been great.
JERRY JOHNSON: Oh, it’s unbelievable. Every year, it’s a momentum thing; people tell their friends, you gotta go to Back to the 50’s.
STEVEN CHUPNICK: The Back to the 50's show has it all - besides the cars of course - from older friends and family to new friends and family...but it's about the fun all weekend long that has these people coming back year after year.
And before we left, I decided to leave the Back to the 50’s crew with a bit of MotorWeek’s legacy...there’s no way to catch a glimpse of every car at the show. But, that’s all the more reason to return to St. Paul and drive back in time next year!